Landing lights while flying in a pattern

I know the general rule is that landing lights should be on when on approach / landing when under 10K’. What about when flying patterns? I typically turn them off after takeoff and then back on when turning final.

Is this correct?


In patterns, I usually just leave them on the whole time tbh :)


Myself personally, since im flying below 10000 MSL(typically), I would just leave them on, even if I am above 10000MSL

I turn my off after takeoff (above 10k feet)
When landing I turn them on starting 10k feet

I asked this question to my dad, (he’s a FedEx pilot) and he said they keep the landing lights on up to 25,000 feet, then turn them off, but if they descend under 25,000 feet they come back on. Regardless of the weather, or traffic in the area.


Think about yourself actually being in the airplane in an environment with other traffic around. You want to make sure other people can see you. Just leave them on. The general rule of having them on under 10k should tell you that anyway.

Thanks for the input everyone. Sounds like leaving them on 100% is the best answer.

I did some quick Google searching before asking the question and it appears the only regulation re. this topic, even for commercial AC, is landing lights need to be on at night (no altitude specified).

Different carriers have different have different standard operating procedures for when landing lights are turned on. GA AC are encouraged to have landing lights on in the vicinity of the airport for visibility but this too is convention vs. a requirement.

There is a voluntary safety program / recommendation from the FAA that encourages, but does not require, pilots to illuminate landing lights under 10,000’ especially when within 10 nm of an airport.

That said other sites note that landing lights can be very expensive for GA pilots and have relatively short lifespans. My guess is that most GA pilots flying between airports in an uncongested airspace don’t leave their landing lights on.

Thanks for the conversation and input!

Nice to have such a great resource. Thank for asking him!


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